Chone Figgins Rumors
Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from the Dodgers' North American opener against the Padres on Sunday, the club announced. The left-hander is suffering from inflammation of the teres major muscle in his upper back and the Dodgers are understandably being very cautious with their ace, though Kershaw still intends to start the Dodgers' home opener against the Giants on April 4. Kershaw also told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that he didn't believe his injury was caused either by his 102-pitch outing in the Dodgers' opener against the Diamondbacks or the long flights back and forth from Australia.
Here's some more from around the NL West...
- Chone Figgins is thankful to be back on a Major League roster after his struggles of the last few seasons, which included missing the entire 2013 campaign, the utilityman tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Figgins signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in January and while he hasn't hit much in Spring Training, his on-base ability and positional versatility were enough for him to win a bench job.
- Tony Sipp won't opt out of his contract with the Padres, MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo reports (via Twitter). Sipp was told earlier in the week that he wouldn't make San Diego's Opening Day roster and he could've opted out of his minor league deal today, but will instead report to Triple-A. The southpaw faces another opt-out date on June 1.
- At least two years and $50MM separate Pablo Sandoval and the Giants in extension talks, and the large gap is indicative of how wary the Giants are about committing a long-term deal to Sandoval, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Notable players like Curt Schilling, Carlos Lee and Delmon Young have signed contracts with weight clauses in the past, but the MLBPA "frowns on them, especially for marquee free agents." Shea lists the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox as teams who could be looking for a third base upgrade next winter when Sandoval is a free agent, and Shea thinks Sandoval could find his price on the open market.
Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.
Elsewhere in the National League:
- With the possibility Niese may open the season on the disabled list, Jenrry Mejia could join Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Mets' rotation with John Lannan earning a relief role, according to Rubin.
- The Diamondbacks are another team scrambling to fill a void in their starting rotation in the wake of the news from earlier today Patrick Corbin could be facing Tommy John surgery. GM Kevin Towers, however, plans to use in-house options like Randall Delgado, Archie Bradley, and Josh Collmenter rather than seek a trade immediately, tweets Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com.
- Noah Syndergaard, who remains in the Mets' Major League Spring Training camp, was the key component in last offseason's R.A. Dickey trade, writes Matt Ehalt of the Record. "I think eventually it got to the point where we needed Syndergaard," said J.P. Ricciardi, the Mets' special assistant to the GM. "I think in order to finish it off, we needed a younger, higher prospect to make us say, 'OK, it's worth trading a Cy Young Award winner.'"
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says the team's bullpen depth is "a chance to move a guy that can go help someone else to add a piece," tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Travis Sawchik. Huntington also gave a near-guarantee Edinson Volquez will be in the Pirates' starting rotation, Sawchik tweets.
- Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post contradicts a story from this morning the Rockies are in the market for right-handed bullpen help. A source tells Renck the club prefers to give Chad Bettis or Chris Martin a chance before pursuing a trade.
- Being forced to rush their young pitching prospects to the Majors has come back to haunt the Marlins, as Jacob Turner and Brad Hand (22 and 23, respectively) are now out of options, opines MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- The Dodgers have selected the contract of Justin Turner and will bring Chone Figgins to Australia, reports Dylan Herndandez of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes broke the news in February of Turner agreeing to a minor league contract with the Dodgers and now the 29-year-old will make $1MM as a reserve infielder. Figgins, who signed a minor league deal in January and is trying to make the squad as an utilityman, will be one of 30 players the Dodgers are taking on the trip (only 25 will be active on game day).
Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker provides an interesting breakdown of the payrolls of Japanese clubs. The Yomiuri Giants lead the way with a USD-equivalent tab of about $45.45MM, which includes all players on the club's 70-man roster. Just 91 players league-wide make the equivalent of over $1MM, says Newman, with powerful catcher Shinnosuke Abe leading the way with a $6MM annual draw. Among foreign players, Andruw Jones of Rakuten has the highest salary at $3.8MM. Here are some more notes from the evening:
- Free agent outfielder Derrick Robinson underwent shoulder surgery today and is expected to miss most (if not all) of the coming season, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 26-year-old saw his first taste of MLB action last year, putting up a .255/.322/.323 line in 216 plate appearances for the Reds.
- Chone Figgins had to go back to square one to earn an opportunity with the Dodgers, writes Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times. The 36-year-old said that his showcase was "like a high school workout," except that he wrapped it up by telling the attending scouts to "tell your bosses you have a player who played in the big leagues and can still play."
- Twins middle infielder Brian Dozier says he would be interested in talking extension, if approached, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Nothing yet, but I'd be dumb not to even listen," said Dozier. "It's up to those guys. We'd be open to anything." Dozier had a breakout year in 2013, putting up a .244/.312/.414 line in 623 plate appearances and performing well enough defensively and on the basepaths to register 3.8 rWAR and 3.9 fWAR. Dozier hit 18 long balls in his first full-time year, despite having never reached double-digits at any professional level. The 26-year-old is set to reach arbitration eligibility in 2016.
- Though a new deal for a player like Dozier would certainly be a surprise at this point in his career, his defensive flexibility makes him a reasonable risk since he will remain worthy of a roster spot even if he loses a starting role. (Dozier played 83 games at shortstop in 2012.) And (as MLBTR's Steve Adams noted to me), Dozier's early propensity for counting stats could provide some impetus for a deal, since he may draw a relatively sizeable arbitration salary when he qualifies. Indeed, as Braves senior advisor John Hart recently noted, less-prominent players could increasingly be targeted by teams looking for new ways to derive value.
FRIDAY: The Dodgers have officially announced the Figgins signing, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
WEDNESDAY: The Dodgers have agreed to sign Chone Figgins to a minor league contract, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported earlier this evening that the two sides were close on a deal that includes an invitation for Figgins to join the Dodgers' Major League spring training camp. Figgins, who celebrates his 36th birthday today, is represented by the ACES agency.
Figgins signed a minor league deal with the Marlins last spring but was released in March, leading him to sit out the 2013 season. The veteran utilityman was looking to make a comeback and recently worked out for several teams, including the Dodgers. Figgins played mostly third base and outfield in 2011-12 but he has experience all over the diamond, making him a potentially valuable bench piece if he makes the Los Angeles roster. Most notably, Figgins could provide depth at second base behind rookie Alexander Guerrero.
Figgins is looking to revive his career after three miserable seasons in Seattle. He signed a four-year, $36MM free agent deal with the Mariners following the 2009 season but struggled badly, hitting .227/.302/.283 in 1209 PA with the team before being released with one year remaining on his contract.
All MLBTR readers are familiar with the MLB hot stove, but the biggest factor on the 2013-14 offseasion hails from abroad. As you are no doubt aware, Masahiro Tanaka spent his entire career to date in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Rakuten posted Tanaka, and stands to collect $20MM once Tanaka signs with a big league club. Tanaka was the best player on last year's Japan Series-winning Golden Eagles club. But how did Rakuten build that championship team, when the franchise was not even formed until 2005? Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker details the rise of the Golden Eagles, which featured the use of top draft picks on pitchers while the club added power from MLB castaways like Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee. Though Rakuten inked Kevin Youkilis to replace the departed McGehee, says Newman, filling in for Tanaka figures to be an impossibility.
As we pass another night without learning where Tanaka will land, let's look at some notes from the American League:
- Twins top prospect Miguel Sano is the game's best third-base prospect, according to Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. Sano anchors the top spot on the list for the second consecutive season. The free Top 10 list (with scouting reports) is rounded out by Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, Maikel Franco, Colin Moran, Garin Cecchini, Matt Davidson, D.J. Peterson, Joey Gallo and Hunter Dozier.
- Minnesota has not shown interest in Chone Figgins since watching his workout last week, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). Other clubs have expressed interest in Figgins and made offers inviting him to camp, Wolfson adds.
- When asked about an extension for manager Ron Washington, Rangers GM Jon Daniels was positive but noncommittal, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. "He's been a huge part of what we've done here," said Daniels. "I expect that to continue going forward."
- Meanwhile, Daniels says that Texas is working the free agent market for pitching depth, but is not looking at top-of-the-market arms, Wilson further tweets. We heard recently that the club had inquired on Paul Maholm and Bruce Chen.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
With the signings of Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds to minor league deals, the Brewers seem likely to spend roster spots on both of the veterans. "[First base] is a position where we may have to mix and match with Overbay, Reynolds, Juan Francisco," GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. "We've got numbers now to work with and guys can come into camp and be competitive. ... I didn't think we'd be able to sign both Reynolds and Overbay, but sometimes the situation with two guys doing it, you might get some production."
Let's have a look at some notes on a few other free agents who are likely to end up with one-year or minor league deals:
- The Phillies are not pursuing Jerome Williams at present in spite of prior interest, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Philadelphia does, however, have an offer out to a swingman whose identity is not presently known, according to Cotillo. (Twitter links.)
- About a half-dozen teams are "in on" pitcher Chad Gaudin, who is expected to reach agreement soon, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). Last we checked in on Gaudin, the Phils were being floated as a possible landing spot.
- Red Sox scouts actually were in attendance to watch infielder Chone Figgins work out last week, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo had recently reported to the contrary. The 35-year-old signed with the Marlins last spring, but did not make it out of camp with the organization.
- Righty Brett Tomko, who is reportedly on the comeback trail at age 40, will throw for the Orioles on Friday, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. As MLBTR's Zach Links noted on Twitter, Tomko has received interest from multiple clubs and is said to be throwing in the low-90s.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that outside of his own representation, you won’t find a lot of legal experts who believe Alex Rodriguez will win in federal court. “I would be surprised if the decision is reversed,” Stanford law professor William B. Gould IV said. “Since 1960, arbitration awards can only be reversed when the arbitrator decides on his own ideas of justice rather than the CBA or because of fraud, corruption or partiality. The merits are for the arbitrator, not the courts. Probably the arbitrator should have called Selig to the stand to avoid partiality, but that won’t be a basis for reversal on its own. As for the union, their obligation is to investigate A-Rod’s claim in good faith — they did so and took his case. And allowing his own counsel.” More from today's column..
- Teams are staying away from Nelson Cruz because salary demands still haven’t come down quite enough, according to one National League GM. He made sense for the Orioles as a power-hitting right-handed bat, but their recent acquisition of Delmon Young may have squashed their interest.
- Teams have been reluctant to pony up a four- or five-year deal for Matt Garza and he may have to settle for fewer years, even with the price of pitching very high. “There may be concerns about him physically,” said one AL exec. “I think most teams are thinking four or five years is just too risky, even if he’s a no-compensation guy.”
- Cafardo hears that the bidding for Masahiro Tanaka could get as high as $120MM over six years and that he could shake hands on a deal before the January 24th deadline.
- The Red Sox were not among the teams who watched Chone Figgins workout in Arizona as he attempts a comeback. Figgins hopes to resurrect his career, even if it’s as a utility man. It appears he’ll get the chance to be in camp with someone.
- After recovering from life-threatening injuries and having his spleen removed, Carl Pavano is throwing off of flat ground in Arizona, according to his agent, Dave Pepe. “Some teams have popped in to see where he’s at. Our intention is for him to throw bullpens for teams in mid-February,” Pepe said.
- Former Rockies and Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook is also looking to bounce back after a tired arm ended his season in July. He did not pitch in the majors last season, making eight starts with Triple A Colorado Springs.
- Agent Alan Nero says he'd be surprised if any of the arbitration-eligible players went to a hearing this year.
- Former Indians and Mariners skipper Eric Wedge will likely take a network television job soon but he'd like to get another chance in the dugout at some point.
- Reliever Cedrick Bowers, who spent last season in the Atlantic League, is starting to catch the eye of scouts in Venezuela.
Infielder Chase Lambin is looking to latch on with a team on a minor league deal, MLBTR has learned. The 34-year-old is the oldest active minor leaguer without any Major League experience despite a solid .272/.345/.438 career line in the minor leagues. Lambin played well in 24 games for the independent Atlantic League's Sugar Land Skeeters in 2013, leading to a minor league deal with the Royals, where he appeared in 22 games at the Triple-A level. After 11 seasons in the minors (and one in Japan), Lambin still hopes to achieve his dream of donning a Major League uniform. Here are some more notes from around baseball.
- The White Sox aren't likely to pursue Masahiro Tanaka, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com writes. The money may be prohibitive, and it would be surprising if the White Sox were to take huge risks on both Tanaka and Jose Dariel Abreu in essentially the same offseason.
- Abreu impressed his new organization at the team's minicamp, reports MLB.com's Cash Kruth. "We try to keep in mind that it's Jan. 14 and we still have a ways to go," says GM Rick Hahn. "But just watching Jose go through his work, you saw that professionalism as well as the plus-plus power on display today in only his first couple of rounds of BP. He's a very serious hitter."
- The Yankees' brass agrees it needs to add talent to its rotation, but still hasn't reached a consensus about Masahiro Tanaka, Dan Martin of the New York Post writes. "We’ll find out soon enough, but it’s not like he’s a sure-fire thing," says one team official. "I’d like to think so, but I’m not convinced." Martin notes, however, that the Yankees haven't seriously pursued Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.
- Chone Figgins worked out for teams on Wednesday in Tampa, and the Twins were in attendance, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets. The Dodgers watched as well, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes. Figgins, who will be 36 next week, did not play in the Majors in 2013 after struggling through the 2010-2012 seasons with the Mariners.
Steve Adams contributed to the intro to this post.
MLB was ready to pass expanded replay and eliminate home plate collisions at last month's Winter Meetings. However, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the main hurdle is union approval. In an email to FOX Sports, MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark wrote the union's executive board discussed both issues "at length" during its December meeting, but "a consensus on both matters was not reached." Clark added "what has been contemplated exceeds what was agreed to" in regards to instant replay and "as it relates to home plate collisions, there are several points of view to explore with the players and we continue to do so." In today's news and notes from the American League:
- The Yankees will not make a final decision about how to handle the possibility of Alex Rodriguez reporting to Spring Training until speaking with the comissioner's office, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand. One baseball official told Marchand the Yankees could send Rodriguez to their minor league camp and even go as far as instructing coaches not to hit him grounders or throw him batting practice.
- The only reason for Rodriguez to attend Spring Training is to give the media even more A-Rod headlines next month, opines Jayson Stark of ESPN. Several industry sources familiar with baseball's Basic Agreement and Joint Drug Agreement tell Stark neither agreement explicitly gives a player suspended for the season the right to attend Spring Training with one official calling the wording "intentionally vague."
- The Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League have released a statement on their Facebook page saying they will not sign A-Rod and doing so "would be a hurtful precedent." However, the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent Pacific Association are open to the possibility, tweets the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea, who first wrote about the team's interest last August. In the article, Shea notes the Pacific Association does not adhere to MLB suspensions and has no mandatory drug testing.
- Mitch Moreland told reporters, including Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, he still isn't sure whether he will playing for the Rangers or elsewhere in 2014. "They’ve definitely made a lot of moves and have been very active this offseason," Moreland said. "From what I know right now, I’m still here and still a Texas Ranger and happy to be here and looking forward to the season." Earlier today, we learned Texas has been unwilling to discuss Moreland in trade talks. If that remains the case, Moreland says he has been told his role will be changing and he will use Spring Training to prepare himself to play first base, the outfield, and DH.
- The Twins are still showing no interest in exploring multi-year pacts with any of their three arbitration eligible players, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a total of $4.8MM for the trio of Trevor Plouffe, Brian Duensing, and Anthony Swarzak. In a separate tweet, Berardino reports an arbitration hearing will probably not be needed for Swarzak because the salary gap should be pretty narrow. The filing deadline is Tuesday.
- After sitting out 2013, Chone Figgins wants to play this season and will work out for teams in Tampa this week, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. After a .298/.395/.393 line with the Angels in 2009, Figgins signed a four-year, $36MM deal with the Mariners and proceeded to struggle in Seattle with a .227/.302/.283 slash over the life of the contract.
Justin Verlander says he won't engage in contract talks with the Tigers during the regular season, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. "Once this last start comes around, I want to concentrate on the start of the season,'' Verlander says. There are no signs from the Tigers that an extension is imminent. Verlander isn't slated to become a free agent until after 2014, but Heyman suggests that Verlander might be less inclined to sign a long-term deal with one year to go before free agency. Here are more notes from the two Central divisions.
- If the Twins were to allow manager Ron Gardenhire to leave, he'd be "unemployed for about 10 minutes," Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues. Gardenhire is in the last year of his contract, and the Twins lost 96 games last season and 99 in 2011.
- GM John Mozeliak and the Cardinals are "primed for long-term success," Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says. The Cards can both strive to win in the present and count on winning in the future, thanks to a strong core and future payroll flexibility.
- The Cubs could be on the lookout for a spare infielder, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Manager Dale Sveum likes the recently-released Chone Figgins, saying Figgins "is one who would be interesting because he switch hits and plays the outfield." But don't count on the Cubs acquiring him, since Sveum would rather have a lefty hitter with power.